Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Match Preview

Preview | Pre-match conference | Team news

The Champions League witnessed some extraordinary results yesterday. Sure, one could legislate for the winners of the clashes being expected, but their margins of victories were FIFA-esque. In today's pragmatic and practical footballing world, I strongly doubt we'd see another such night. But of course, in isolation to Arsenal, you really can't predict anything.

The way we've been playing it's like a bull in a china shop - totally random. Wenger has somehow managed to negate a very potent attack with an equally nervy defence. 2-2 draws are starting to become something of a common occurrence, as well as the appearances of Bellerin on the bench. Now, I've always been one of the biggest advocates for him, not least because of his silky wavy hair, but let's not kid ourselves that his inclusion was anything other than the result of a lack of pre-planning and indecision in the market.

Even so, it's likely he won't be playing much of a part tonight. The best back four we can muster would include Chambers - Mertesacker - Monreal - Gibbs. Hardly the best case scenario, but it was apparent that entering into a Premier League season with merely six first team defenders was crying out for such a situation. It was a bold, but pointless gamble, which has backfired two months into the season.

Regardless of instability in defence through injuries and whatnot, I hope we keep a clean sheet tonight, more than anything. Sure, our rocky backline could be used as a reason more than an excuse if we concede one or two, but I really hope that today's mindset lies along the lines of, "Right, we need the whole team to be switched on and defend as a unit, tracking back like Alexis." If we're ever-so eager to play like Barcelona, why can't we defend like them?

I'm getting a bit wary of Alexis and Welbeck as well. Both have played lots of games since they've arrived, and while Sanchez was rested somewhere along the week when we played Villa and Spurs (a much welcome sight, by the way) his constant running about the pitch kind of negated those absences. It's always appreciated to see a player giving his all in the dying embers of the game, but at this rate it'd only be so long until either one of them get crocked owing to a fatigue-related injury. I know that benching them for tonight is a tad too chancy, but I hope there's some plan in order to close the game early so that we can rest them around the 50th minute.

Hope. That's all I can do. Heh.

In short, I'd like a pacey front four of Santi - Ox - Sanchez - Welbeck, with Ramsey and Arteta at double pivots of that 4-2-3-1. Above all else, I hope we don't persist with 4-1-4-1 and move Ramsey further upfield. That formation has proven to be inconsistent (at the very least), and away from home it's an invitation for Anderlecht to pick on our mishmash defence and rookie goalkeeper. Ramsey provides support for Arteta. It's not enough defensive support, but tons better than a 4-1-4-1, which seldom helps us click offensively anyways. Yet you wouldn't put it past Wenger to employ that structure tonight.

Speaking of Wenger - my blog has, for me at least, being a succinct representation of how my views deteriorated towards him. This time last year, I said: "A very happy birthday to Arsene Wenger. I still have my doubts on you, but I sure as hell have a lot of respect for you too."

It's amazing how time changes you. Today I want him out and I want him to lose the pretend image he has created for himself in the footballing world. Exactly a year of false promises, dithering and refusal to accept accountability has blown my respect for him with a shotgun.

That was a weird figure of speech, in hindsight.

Him turning 65 will not change my perception of him. I'm willing to plaster a sad smile the day he leaves for the sake of people who do respect him, but the fact remains that he has done little to merit the royalty he receives over the past half a decade. Of course I'll stick it out as a supporter because I love almost every other aspect of this club, but my preference would still remain him seeing removed from the club on our terms, not his.

More on that here. For now, a win would be swell, thanks.

-Santi [Follow me on Twitter @ArsenalBlogz ]